Vacation schemes: the application process

  • Last updated 28-Jul-2016 17:43:19
  • By Maudie Powell-Tuck and Sofia Gymer, Editors,

It’s no secret that vacation schemes are being utilised increasingly by firms to scout out potential trainees.

The year 2015 has seen the number of trainees recruited from vacation schemes steadily rise to a whopping 40%, up from 35% in 2014 and 32% in 2013. Thus, the incentive to apply to these schemes is more than ever.

The deadline for vacation schemes varies depending on whether you are applying for a winter, spring or summer vacation scheme. The deadline for winter vacation schemes will be in late October or November.

For spring and summer vacation schemes, generally speaking D-Day is the 31 January. However, for each firm that you intend to apply to it's imperative to check the deadline on the firm's website or's jobs section, as they can vary!

Think about vacation schemes from day one!

First year is an ideal time to start laying the foundations for your vacation scheme application. Start with being proactive in university life (for instance, through extra-curricular activities or volunteering) and working hard to get decent grades in your first year modules.

Put that long summer holiday to good use by doing work experience, holding down a temporary job, volunteering or similar. You’ll need to amass the evidence to prove that you are the well-rounded, academic (but with a good dollop of business sense) person that they are looking for.

Come autumn term in your second year, you’ll be polishing your shoes and swotting up on your law firm research as you attend career events and law fairs. While you might smirk at your university law society’s “Cheese and Wine” event, career events aren’t to be belittled.

They provide excellent chances to meet representatives of law firms, and ask them questions about their law firm and the vacation scheme. Think about where you want to do your vacation scheme. What areas of practice are you interested in? What size of law firm? You can browse our law firm profiles for information on all of the major firms.

The vacation scheme application process

Through thorough research and speaking to the contacts you’ve met via on-campus careers events, you should have established a wish list of law firms you want to work for. What’s left now is to send off that online application. Places on vacation schemes do fill up quickly and some law firms have earlier deadlines, so instead of leaving it to the last minute, be a real rebel and get your applications in early.

You should treat applying to vacation schemes as seriously as you would applying for training contracts. Most law firms will expect you either to fill out an online application form or send in a cover letter and CV.

It’s worth putting more effort into sending out five or six applications than churning out dozens of generic applications. Recruiters can sniff out a copied and pasted application a mile off, so make sure you tailor every application to each law firm.

If your application is successful, then you’ll probably be invited to an interview or even an assessment centre.

For both of these, a keen awareness of what the firm does (and how it functions as a business) and your own strengths and weaknesses will really stand you in good stead.

Do well at the interview and/or assessment centre and, come summer, you’ll find yourself suited and booted, ready to start your vacation scheme with a law firm.

So enough about how to apply, let's get applying! Here's a list of current vacation schemes available.

More like this

  • The truth about the application processBy Sofia Gymer, Editor,

    We spoke to Janine Arnold, trainee recruitment manager at Slaughter and May, to get the scoop on the vacation scheme process. What do Slaughter and May look for in an application?  "Our application

  • How important is a vacation scheme?By Sofia Gymer and Becky Kells, Editors,

    In the aspiring lawyers community there is naturally a large focus on acquiring a training contract, because they are seen as a sure bet to gain full-time employment. However, especially in recent years,

  • Vacation schemes: Are they really “Half The Battle”?By Billy Sexton, Editor,

    If you receive emails from (if you don’t, sign up here if ya want!) or follow us on Facebook, you’d have heard us spouting quite a bit about how you

  • What's the competition for a vacation scheme?By Billy Sexton, Editor,

    Even if you have a mild interest in a career in law, undertaking a vacation scheme is a great option to further your interest and experience. Even if you complete a

  • How to write a vacation scheme CVBy Billy Sexton, Editor,

    If you haven’t guessed already, or are new to the website, we’re pretty keen on helping you budding lawyers land yourself a vacation scheme or training contract. Seeing as landing